trench coat outfit for fall

What is Classic Style?

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Despite the constant coming and going of trends and the wide diversity of styles and aesthetics, when you ask someone about what they consider “classic style”, the answers are likely quite similar. There are sure to be a few differences here and there based on personal taste, but many people still have the same general idea of what defines classic style. 

The idea of the classic woman, when conjured in one’s head, always knows exactly what to wear. She makes her polished appearance look effortless. Think style icons like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jackie O., and many French fashionistas like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.

“Classic” is defined as “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” This definition fits perfectly when applied to the idea of classic style and what we all want out of clothes in general: excellent-quality and long-lasting garments that are beautiful, versatile, and always in fashion!

Classic Style Staples

A huge part of the conversation revolving around classic style is what pieces are considered essential in a classic wardrobe. What are those sacred items that the classic woman holds so dear?

The answer?

Well, not to disappoint, but there really is no definitive answer. Just as someone with a different style will have a different idea of what their wardrobe staples are, classic style staples vary from woman to woman, based on her career, where she lives, her lifestyle, and more. 

The list I’ve accumulated here includes some examples of pieces that are known for their timeless appeal and versatility. But keep in mind how your lifestyle and personal style relate to these pieces!

Someone who works from home may not require a blazer or even black pumps. If you live in a place where it’s hot year-round, a trench coat may not make any sense in your wardrobe. 

Under each essential item, I’ve also included an alternative staple for those that want something a little different, but with that same classic appeal.

Let’s take a look!

Trench Coat

A personal favorite, this coat style has been one of the hallmarks of classic style for several decades. Popularized by Burberry, the trench coat offers the perfect balance of utility and beauty, as many timeless pieces do.

The look of a fab trench over a simple black dress and pumps is one that looked gorgeous 50 years ago and will still look gorgeous 50 years from now!

Alternative: A simple camel coat. A little less embellished than the trench, a long camel coat offers that same refined elegance with a more minimalistic style. 

Leather Moto Jacket

The classic biker jacket is the perfect versatile outerwear choice. This piece can be used to instantly change the look and feel of your outfit, whether it’s adding an edgy touch to a feminine dress or jazzing up an otherwise plain outfit.

Black is the most classic color for the iconic style, but choose the color that fits your wardrobe best. If you like soft, subdued colors, a beige or gray leather jacket is just as chic. 

Alternative: Leather blazer. If the more hardcore style of a biker jacket isn’t your thing, a chic leather blazer is perfect for creating a sleek and modern look.


A perfect Little Black Dress is one style staple that nearly every woman recognizes as a must-have. Black clothing is incredibly popular for many reasons. It pairs flawlessly with most colors and is ideal for creating a slimmer and more flattering shape.

No matter your age, career, or where you live, a well-fitted black dress works for almost every wardrobe and is versatile enough to create endless outfit possibilities. Make sure to pick a silhouette that works for your personal style in order to maximize the amount of wear you get out of your dress.

Alternative: The LWD. If black isn’t really your thing, a little white dress offers that same classic appeal in a softer hue. This dress can be A-line, midi-length, maxi-length, or lace. Whatever matches your look the best.

Black Pumps

A pair of classic black pumps can take you everywhere: the office, date night, the coffee shop, and beyond. They look just as gorgeous with jeans as they do your LBD and are synonymous with classic style.

When shopping for that perfect pair, keep in mind your comfort level. Try out your pumps before purchasing them and always stick with a heel height you can be comfortable in for hours at a time. 

Alternative: Neutral-colored pumps. Just like with the LBD, black isn’t for everyone’s wardrobe. Neutral pumps are the perfect alternative, as they are equally chic and versatile. Plus, they have the added bonus of making your legs look miles long.

Related: 11 Ways To Nail a Classic French Style Clothing Look

Great Jeans

Another essential item that’s no secret to many is a killer pair of jeans. This staple item has been in wardrobes for decades and still manages to be the ultimate go-to for a casual look. But finding the perfect pair of jeans for your style and figure can be difficult, especially with countless options available on the market today.

Generally, a pair of straight-leg or skinny jeans is the best option, since they easily pair with a variety of outfits and shoe styles, but don’t be afraid to branch out!

Alternative: A denim skirt and/or jacket. Denim has been shown to stand the test of time, so don’t be afraid to incorporate items other than jeans into your list of wardrobe essentials. Jean skirts and jackets are a great way to add a casual element into your outfit and even dress down an otherwise formal look.


Any career woman will tell you that a fitted blazer is a must-have for your professional wardrobe. But that’s far from the only use this outerwear essential has.

Throwing a blazer over a plain white tee and jeans is a simple way to elevate your outfit to that editorial level. Make sure you take the time to invest in a well-made blazer and/or have it professionally tailored to your body for the best possible look.

Alternative: A great cardigan. If a blazer is a bit too tailored for you, a cozy cardigan offers the same extra layer of warmth and style with a more relaxed feel. These are also excellent for a comfy loungewear look.

White Button-Down

We’ve talked plenty about outerwear, but what about what’s underneath? A simple white button-down is both a beautiful and elegant standalone piece that also makes the perfect backdrop for accessories.

Just like the other essential items, this top can be taken from the office to casual wear in an instant. It even looks chic at the beach as a simple coverup with cutoff denim shorts.

Cotton is a great choice for this piece, but for a more luxe look, silk is the best option. It’s pricey but with proper care, this is an item you will use for several years to come. 

Alternative: A wrap top. For a fun twist on the classic white button-down, a wrap top is a unique and stylish option. These shirts are just as versatile and could be even better for some figures, thanks to their waist-sinching silhouette. 

Everyday Leather Bag

A good-quality leather bag is sure to be anyone’s best friend. It can double as a work bag, shopping bag, or laptop bag, especially if you choose one that includes a long strap.

Make sure to select a bag made of high-quality leather or vegan leather and choose a size that’s big enough to carry all of your necessities. When properly conditioned and cared for, a great leather bag can even make for a great heirloom piece.

Alternative: A low-profile crossbody. If you’re the type who only carries a few select essentials, a smaller bag may suit your needs better. Try a style with a removable crossbody strap for maximum versatility. 

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Classic style is incredibly popular and it’s easy to see why. The versatility of these pieces allows them to be transitioned to any season and worn for years and years to come.

Another advantage of this type of wardrobe is that these timeless items can be mixed and matched with tons of different pieces for fabulous new looks. So, don’t be afraid to try out a trend or two that catches your eye. After all, fashion is about having fun and expressing yourself!

If you want more recommendations on the classic clothes to have, check out Classic Fashion Master List | My All-Time Favorite Clothing Pieces

what is classic style


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.